RE: Noble M12 GTO | The Brave Pill

RE: Noble M12 GTO | The Brave Pill

Saturday 31st August

Noble M12 GTO | The Brave Pill

It's Scotland the Brave this week with a very orange M12 we found most of the way to the Faroe Islands



Spot the odd one out: Enzo, Ferdinand, Ferruccio, Horacio, Lee. Putting your own name over the door of your sports car factory has always indicated a high level of confidence that the product will be one you'll want to be permanently associated with. Yet in the case of Noble Automotive it was almost entirely justified.

Regular readers will have noticed that our Pills carry different risk levels. You'd get bored if we only did fizzing grenade V12s. Some Pills require only a modest level of valour, one that could be likened to ripping a week-old sticking plaster from somewhere hairy. But others come closer to the example set by Aron Ralston, the American who got impossibly wedged between two rocks after a solo climbing accident and resourcefully hacked his arm off with a pocketknife before hiking across a desert to safety. After last week's Korma-grade Monaro we've going full Phall this time: a tuned Noble M12 in Thermonuclear Orange, offered for sale on the bit of the map surrounded by sea monsters.

Anyone who hasn't paid close attention to Noble values might be surprised at the Β£34,500 price tag, a figure which is only Β£10,000 less than the M12 would have cost its first owner back in 2002. Yet this is currently the cheapest Noble in the classifieds, proof that values have been steadily rising for years as people realise both how special the model is. Even at that price and by 2019 standards it is still a serious performance bargain; to go faster around a track you'd need to either pay significantly more or buy something without a roof or the Noble's respectable tally of creature comforts. You're unlikely to hear much of our Pill's audio system when it is on the move, but it also has air con and even a set of squashy bag fitted luggage.


Noble's launch caused a fair bit of confusion. Lee Noble's background had been in kit cars, most famously the hugely fast Ultima, so the assumption was his new venture would offer much of the same. The first Noble M10 was only supplied fully built, but its front end had a distinct Done It Yourself look about it, perpetuating the misperception.

The M12 arrived so soon enough afterwards that most deposit-placers immediately switched their orders to it. It featured a fixed roof - the M10 was a roadster - a turbocharged version of the earlier car's mid-mounted Ford V6 and a front end with round headlights and a classic sports car vibe. The glassfibre bodywork was made in South Africa to a high standard, then fitted to a steel chassis featuring riveted aluminium panels to add strength. But while the M12 looked much better than the M10, it was still what detractors suggested was "a bit kitty."

Fortunately for those lucky enough to get the chance, driving an M12 immediately cleared up any doubts over its right to be regarded as a proper sports car. Indeed, an exceptional one. A pair of Garret T25 turbos had boosted the Duratec V6 to 310hp, allied to a kerb weight of just 980kg. Even in its least powerful form the M12 GTO was hugely fast, but the way the chassis delivered was equally impressive: plentiful grip, perfectly dialled-in steering and a balance that allowed either impressive accuracy, adrenaline-spiking lairiness, or a mixture of the two - sometimes in the same corner.

On road it was loud and lacked refinement, especially as the doors tended to pop away from the seals at higher speeds and with a hard-use induction soundtrack that was like getting an obscene phone call from Darth Vader. Damping coped exceptionally well with the real world, and the Noble could deliver big pace despite the near-total lack of driver aids. On track it was mega, quicker and easier to drive hard than practically anything else. At a magazine's handling test in Rockingham I remember being passed by a low-flying M12 with dismissive ease. I wouldn't have minded, but I was in a 996 GT2, a car that coped less well with the tight infield than the much cheaper Noble did.


The M12 evolved steadily over time, with GTO-3 and then 3R variants gaining more power and more grip. Eventually it formed the basis of the M400, which moved the power-to-weight ratio up to 400hp-per-tonne. But while these iterations grew faster, none added appreciably to the purity of the first GTO's driving experience, and as outputs rose and acceleration times fell so prices started to increase. No fewer than 1500 of the M12 clan were sold in 'six years, a very impressive number for a sports car startup, but the M14 and M15 that were meant to follow it were both stillborn. The M600 eventually arrived, just before Lee Noble's departure from the company, and although it is still with us it competes in a completely different part of the market and sells in tiny volumes.

So plentiful reasons to celebrate the high point of our Pill. It is being sold with both a comprehensive history, a list of upgrades and reassurance that most of the M12's known weaknesses have been addressed. Although a private sale the vendor seems determined to follow the examples of the shoutier parts of the motor trade with an ALL CAPS list of key features. The most interesting of which being a limited slip differential (the GTO didn't get one as standard) as well as a circuit-spec lubrication system, part-stainless exhaust, later ECU and what seems to be an upgraded cooling system. There are no performance claims for the tweaked powertrain, but it won't be slow. Our Pill has also been repainted in Lamborghini Orancio Pearl with matching dashboard details; the next owner can be pretty certain of not losing it in a carpark.

It also happens to be in Orkney, and therefore closer to Oslo than London. Whenever the geographic location of previous further-flung Pills has been pointed out someone has always chimed in to say that they are just down the road and it therefore isn't far away at all. While that might well be the case here, this is still the furthest listed so far from PH HQ and - for most - the M12 is going to be at least one ferry ride and quite a lot of fuel away. But for sissy Sassenachs from south of Sutherland collection does offer the prospect of combining the drive home with some (or even all) of the North Coast 500. Can you think of a better way to commence ownership of such a beast?


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Author
Discussion

soad

Original Poster:

30,315 posts

121 months

Saturday 31st August
quotequote all
In before any Mondeo comments surface. hehe

Looks far better with a later model’s headlights, I’d say?

I recall many not liking the basic interior not that long ago...yet values continued to rise.

sidewinder500

92 posts

39 months

Saturday 31st August
quotequote all
Great read, great pill.
Again, well done, PH.

The car is great, never mind the mondeo engine, didn't realise the prices are that stiff already...

Seems that almost anything interesting goes off after the original depreciation period and is valued close to their original price level or above.

Off to classifieds...

StuH

2,537 posts

218 months

Saturday 31st August
quotequote all
Bought mine new in 2002 - it was fantastic! Mine was the original 2.5 but still pretty rapid compared to anything else on the road at the time. Great track day memories cloud9

Niffty951

1,741 posts

173 months

Saturday 31st August
quotequote all
I still have a video of the Houx Annex roundabout, friday in le-mans (2005ish) where a grey Noble M12 pulled the most spectacular donut with only about 1ft to the ankles of the nearest bystanders around much of the 360degrees, before slingshotting away through a group b rally style, rapidly made opening in the crowds.

My other memory is of the original top gear review. Yep, the Noble will always reside in that special place in my heart close to TVR but sadly unlike the TVR I've never owned or even sat in one.

sjc

10,918 posts

215 months

Saturday 31st August
quotequote all
I’ve had pretty much unbroken Noble ownership for 14 years.
3R

M400

Think the only think that will halt my ownership is when I’m to ancient to get in or out of it.
Just a superbly balanced and damped, rare quick car.

Sandpit Steve

258 posts

19 months

Saturday 31st August
quotequote all
Is this a particularly brave one?

Values seem to have held up well, the mechanicals are well known and relatively easy to work on, it’s light weight and not particularly stressed, nor does it have loads of expensive electronics.

Looks like a bloody good little British sports car! Yes please biggrin

rockin

6,799 posts

190 months

Saturday 31st August
quotequote all
It's a great shame Noble tried to "go up-market" with M600 and shot itself in the foot.

Earlier cars were a real alternative to/replacement for Lotus Esprit and I think Noble would have been better off simply refining their existing car.

When Noble dropped the model it's "rights" were acquired by US company Rossion who continued to develop the car successfully,
https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/new-cars/noble-...

Definitely one to file in the "interesting" section.

snuffy

4,925 posts

229 months

Saturday 31st August
quotequote all
I owned my GTO3 for 6 years from 2006 to 2012. I loved it. The reason it finally went was because going away for a few nights was always a faff. They are certainly bonkers to drive; it's a glorified go-kart for the road.

A few words and pics of mine on my site:

http://www.adrianmugridge.co.uk/m12.htm

Hairymonster

467 posts

50 months

Saturday 31st August
quotequote all
Nothing wrong with that ex-Mondeo lump - reliable and very tuneable with good torque.

Also, parts should be readily available and shouldn't cost an arm and a leg.

cerb4.5lee

12,332 posts

125 months

Saturday 31st August
quotequote all
I really wanted one of these when I had my TVR and I've loved them ever since they first came out(probably helped by the fact that I've had 2 V6 Mondeos!).

I love the shape and everything about them. Great cars for me. cloud9

soad

Original Poster:

30,315 posts

121 months

Saturday 31st August
quotequote all
Can I just say, I meant those rear lights.

M600 is on another level, just depends on what you can afford. Surely?

Personally? I’d love to own them all.

sideways man

689 posts

82 months

Saturday 31st August
quotequote all
I had a passenger ride in one at a ‘charity day’ when they were new. It’s the best £35 I have ever spent at a motor circuit, turned out the wheelman was a Noble test driver and was properly on it.
We had tyre on wheelarch rub going through chicanes and 130mph corner entry speeds, passing various Lotus Elise like they had stopped. On getting out I had a grin from ear to ear, and added Noble to my lottery win car list.
Back on topic... is this a brave ? No idea laugh . I’d love one!

sjc

10,918 posts

215 months

Saturday 31st August
quotequote all
sideways man said:
I had a passenger ride in one at a ‘charity day’ when they were new. It’s the best £35 I have ever spent at a motor circuit, turned out the wheelman was a Noble test driver and was properly on it.
We had tyre on wheelarch rub going through chicanes and 130mph corner entry speeds, passing various Lotus Elise like they had stopped. On getting out I had a grin from ear to ear, and added Noble to my lottery win car list.
Back on topic... is this a brave ? No idea laugh . I’d love one!
Chap called Simon ?

TrotCanterGallopCharge

71 posts

35 months

Saturday 31st August
quotequote all
snuffy said:
I owned my GTO3 for 6 years from 2006 to 2012. I loved it. The reason it finally went was because going away for a few nights was always a faff. They are certainly bonkers to drive; it's a glorified go-kart for the road.

A few words and pics of mine on my site:

http://www.adrianmugridge.co.uk/m12.htm
Interesting Cars (& cats), perhaps an Evora next time if you're looking for a change? Hope you have many more enjoyable miles.

sjc

10,918 posts

215 months

Saturday 31st August
quotequote all
The 3 litre was from the Maverick, not the Mondeo.

scottygib553

161 posts

40 months

Saturday 31st August
quotequote all
Don’t see the risk here. Probably expensive if crashed but what car isn’t?

sideways man

689 posts

82 months

Saturday 31st August
quotequote all
sjc said:
Chap called Simon ?
Sorry I really have no idea. Good driver though...

MyV10goesWhaaa

269 posts

38 months

Saturday 31st August
quotequote all
sidewinder500 said:
Great read, great pill.
Again, well done, PH.

The car is great, never mind the mondeo engine, didn't realise the prices are that stiff already...

Seems that almost anything interesting goes off after the original depreciation period and is valued close to their original price level or above.

Off to classifieds...
Yeah mad... Wanted one or a 996 turbo when they were around the 17- 20k bracket... But decided to open a shop instead....

Missed the boat on both cars unfortunately... and now that itch a has turned into an Ultima.....

Love em tho...

yonex

15,082 posts

113 months

Saturday 31st August
quotequote all
Such a fantastic car, always wanted one, definitely on the list.

ChickenvanGuy

208 posts

116 months

Saturday 31st August
quotequote all
A few years ago we were a tad late for the ferry from Mallaig to Skye.

Leaving Fort William I had to, err, push on a bit. I had a 435D Xdrive, a very capable car.

For mile after mile, there was me, followed by an M12. Us on the doorhandles, him cruising.

The Noble turned off, I guess to do the fantastic loop that starts at Lochailort down to Strontian.

Fantastic drive, was a privilege to share the road with it, and we made the ferry. Just!